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Trooper struck on Christmas Eve urges drivers to slow down, move over

Published: Monday, Dec. 31 2012 4:18 p.m. MST

UHP trooper Brent "B.J." Shelby, right, is helped up by Maj. Mike Rapich after a press conference at the Orem UHP Field Office, Monday, Dec. 31, 2012. Shelby was struck and injured by another motorist while assisting at a crash scene on Christmas Eve.

Ben Brewer, Deseret News

OREM — A highway patrol trooper who was struck by an SUV on Christmas evening is urging drivers to slow down and give emergency personnel room to work.

Trooper Brent "B.J." Shelby was assisting at an accident scene last week on I-15 near 7600 South when an SUV lost control and struck him in the right knee. He was transported to a local hospital and allowed to return home the next day. But he suffered a concussion and likely ligament damage to his leg.

"I still got a long road to getting better but I'm going to get better and get back out on the road and get back to doing what I do," he said Monday during a press conference urging caution on the roads.

Shelby said that since his accident he had spent time rehabilitating at home and would soon meet with doctors to further discuss the extent of his injuries.

Both Shelby and UHP Major Mike Rapich said that too many drivers have the mentality that because their vehicle is equipped with snow tires or four-wheel drive they are able to drive at normal freeway speeds during winter storms. They said that while some vehicles are better equipped for wet conditions, it doesn't make it any easier to stop when a slide begins at high speeds.

"Their four-wheel drive will get them up to 70 miles per hour but it's not going to get them down to zero miles per hour," Shelby said. "Slow down out there. Give yourself some time, give yourself some space and get yourself home safely."

Rapich said that in the past year, 16 troopers have been struck while outside their vehicles conducting traffic control. He said the UHP does everything it can to keep troopers safe, such as teaching troopers how to approach accident scenes and set up their vehicles to create a barrier, but ultimately the help of the public is needed to avoid more accidents.

He said people need to slow down and move to the other side of the road when they see emergency lights or hazard lights, particularly in winter driving conditions.

"When we worry about our troopers out on the road it's not armed assault, it's not people with guns that we worry most about," Rapich said, "it's the cars that are alongside of them every single day whizzing by at freeway speeds."

E-mail: benwood@desnews.com

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